7.28.2018

Everything's Coming Up Roses

Thanks to the globalization of food, we are seeing many more recipes that use rosewater as a flavoring.

While this was a quotidian experience in ancient Persia, Turkey, Morocco, and even in Renaissance Italy, it isn’t something you see, smell, or taste often in Snowflake, Arizona or Peru, Nebraska. But now, such ingredients are available everywhere, often in local shops but, inevitably, online.

I have always liked rosewater as a flavoring but have learned - as I did with lavender - that you need to be careful with the amount you use, paying close attention to the strength of the additive.

Today’s recipe calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons of rosewater. I was out of it (how did that happen?) so ran to the store and bought a small bottle.

What I came home with is not the rosewater of ancient Persia. It is a high-quality extract by Nielsen-Massey. Big difference.

Rosewater is generally very floral in scent but mild flavored, so 1 1/2 tablespoons would be fine. But, as it turns out, not with the extract I grabbed from the store shelf. A little goes a long way. I learned the hard way when I served this roulade to guests - it seemed to be filled with hand cream. After further experiment, you can see in the recipe below how little I use.

If you are unsure about the strength of your rosewater, add a little at a time as you beat it into the mascarpone cream, keeping in mind that it will be significantly diluted when you add almost two cups of cream.

This Ottolenghi recipe was introduced to me by my friend, Ruth, but in pavlova form. I opted for the original roulade because I would never alter a recipe... Except that I skipped the dried rose petals, increased the raspberries and pistachios, and - oh, yes - I added a few drops of food coloring because I wanted a pink dessert. So sue me.

This revised roulade has been a great hit. In the immortal words of Shirley & Lee in their 1961 hit, “C’mon Baby Let the Good Times Roulade.”

~ David

Meringue Roulade with Rose Cream and Raspberries
Minimally adapted from Plenty More by Ottolenghi

Meringue
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch


Rose Cream

4 ounces mascarpone
4-6 drops red food dye (optional)
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon rose water extract
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
2 cups fresh raspberries
1-2 tablespoons coarsely chopped raw pistachios
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting, optional


Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C.

Line the base and sides of a 13 by 9-inch sheet pan with parchment paper. Allow the paper to rise about 3/8 inch/1 cm above the sides of the pan. To make the meringue, in a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they begin to firm up. Add the superfine sugar to the whites in a slow stream. Continue beating until a firm, glossy meringue forms. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the vanilla, vinegar, and cornstarch. Spread the mixture inside the prepared pan and level with an offset spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes, until a crust forms and the meringue is cooked through (it will still feel soft to the touch). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.

Unmold the cooled meringue onto a fresh piece of parchment paper. Carefully peel off the lining paper. The crust will crack and splinter - don’t worry, it’s part of the charm!

Meanwhile, make the rose cream. Place the mascarpone, red food dye (if using), confectioners' sugar, and rose water extract in the large bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk until smooth. Add the cream and whisk until the cream just holds its shape. Do not over mix lest it will make the cream too stiff.

Spread most of the mascarpone cream over the original underside of the meringue, reserving enough to dollop on top. Leave a small border around the edge of the meringue. Scatter 1 1/2 cup of the raspberries evenly over the cream.

Use the parchment paper to assist you in rolling. Starting from a long edge roll up the meringue into a log shape. Carefully transfer the log onto a serving platter; the meringue will crack, but that is part of its charm. Dollop the remaining cream on top of the log. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to serve, add remaining raspberries on top, sprinkle with pistachios, and then  - if you like - dust the log with confectioners' sugar. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Serves 8-10.



30 comments:

  1. Yes there's a very fine line between having enough rosewater and too much, and even a breath of it will freak some people out. Personally, I love it. So exotic! Gorgeous roulade too, David. So dainty and elegant!

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    1. Thanks, John! Wow, that extract was strong! I am finding more and more people who are willing to try floral flavors like rose and lavender.

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  2. This is a beautiful dessert. It's so elegant -- both in appearance and flavor. I don't think I've ever cooked or baked with rosewater. Clearly I must.(Fabulous teaspoons, by the way!)

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    1. The spoons are sweet, aren’t they? This is a really elegant dessert, even if a bit rustic!

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  3. This looks beautiful David, I haven’t used rosewater for ages. I can imagine the flavor. Very nice!

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    1. Thanks, Gerlinde! It’s fun to remember favorite old flavors.

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  4. excellent stuff. I love rose extract (I have the same as u). I use in puddings (I am baking a lot right now, re- testing my first book) and in fruit salad- It is a good brand but I do want to try also the Cortas one, whose orange water is superb (on the contrary I did not like at all the orange water from Nielsen-Massey). I think that in this sort of desserts, ottolenghi is at their best (rather restrained all in all). stefano

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    1. I love the Cortas orange blossom water, too. The rose water is excellent, too, but much weaker than the extract. I prefer it, I think!

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  5. Love your photos: well, we in Australia claim anything meringue as 'ours' but New Zealand loudly disputes! Learned early on to use rosewater carefully and actually have set some ras el hanout mixes aside because of the rather pronounced taste predominance . . . must compliment you on the appearance of the log tho' . . .

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    1. All I can say, Eha, is I am grateful to whomever figured out the meringue! I didn’t realize there was rose flavor in ras el hanout. Thanks for the compliment! Much appreciated!

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  6. Yum! Some of my favorite flavors right here, including rose water. There's a gelato place close by to our house that sells Persian Vanilla gelato that's just out of this world.

    I really like the way that the sides of the roulade crack a bit, given it the look of a real log. Very nice...

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    1. Thanks, Frank - I love the crackled exterior, too. And, although I don’t often use food coloring, the little bit of pink in this is a nice contrast!

      Persian Vanilla? Sign me up! One of my favorite gelato flavors is saffron... it just about undoes me.

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  7. OMG ! Love Persian, love history; don't have Persian rosewater but have several jars of original Bulgarian Rose jam !!!!!!!!If I warm it, could work just fine, what you think ?

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    1. I think the warmed jam would be perfect! Now I want to find myself a jar of it!

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  8. Oops! But you learned something and that's good! I love meringue roulades and this just looks like a showstopper! Beautiful, David!

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    1. Thanks, Christina! In a way, I have to fault Nielsen-Massey - as you can see, the bottle says “rose water” while it should say “extract!”

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    2. I agree! Have you written to them?

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  9. You are funny! I say "A recipe is only a guideline." That drives my adult daughter crazy. She is really a pretty good vegan cook but when faced with a real recipe she asks me lots of questions and sometimes they are difficult to answer. That's when I tell her my mantra above. She doesn't like it. Seasoned cooks have learned how to "adapt" a recipe successfully, haven't they. This dessert sounds so wonderful I might someday be tempted to eat cream. I always love cream, I'm of Norwegian heritage for heaven's sake, but now I rarely indulge.

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    1. The Norwegians really do know how to use their creative, don’t they? I know you are abstaining, but I hope you get a chance to try this someday!

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  10. A dessert that tastes like hand cream- arrgh!But if you do as Julia Child does- just pretend that nothing is wrong and keep on eating (ha ha)!I have never used rose water before, but I will have to buy the 'non-hand cream variety. I like your low depth-of-field photos- you must have your aperture set on something like 1.8? Let's keep on rolling with those good times, eh?

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    1. Thanks, Fran - yes, I am using f1.8 - depending on my mood, and the mood of the food, it can look so appealing.

      Yes, try to find some rose water - Cortas brand is a good bet. But anything Indian or Persian should work!

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  11. I've never bought rosewater so I could easily make the same mistake. My only experience with it as a flavor is the Rosewater-Saffron Ice cream at Mashti Malone's in Hollywood. Which is divine... GREG

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    1. So funny, Greg - just wrote to Frank about my love of saffron gelato... but combining with rosewater? Yes, please!

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  12. I usually favor orange blossom water over rosewater for some reason. You can kinda sorta substitute one for the other (Kinda. Sorta.) so that's what I usually have on hand. I should get rosewater again, though, because their flavors ARE different. And make this wonderful looking dish! Really nice -- thanks.

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    1. I kinda sorta agree, John. They do substitute well for one another but I like both. Depends on the dish, I guess. Thanks for your kind comment!

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  13. I love rosewater! Though I didn't as a kid. It's funny how tastes change throughout your life. This would be my kind of dessert.

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  14. Such a brilliant combination of flavours and subtle colours too. This sounds like my perfect dessert.

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  15. I love any kind of meringue dessert, though I have never tried rolling it! Absolutely beautiful. I think meringue is perfect when you need a lighter dessert (which is usually always for me).

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  16. oh ugh. i can just imagine the hand cream!!! Different kind of product, but I was really sold on this orange oil from Boyagin? something like that. so I bought the raspberry thinking it would be high quality, and put some in a whipped cream to top something, and it nearly killed us all. Terrible synthetic flavor, even though the smell was good. In any case, your pavlova is stunning.

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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